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Divided country seeks way out of crisis in disputed poll

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-11-29

Hondurans are voting in a presidential poll Sunday in which neither ousted president Manuel Zelaya (pictured) nor interim leader Roberto Micheletti are candidates. Several Latin American nations say they will not recognise the results.

Nearly 4.5 million Hondurans head to the polls on Sunday amid a tense stand-off between ousted president Manuel Zelaya and his de-facto successor Roberto Micheletti, who took power after a military-backed coup on June 28.

Neither of the two are running in the election, which foreign observers hope will help end the political crisis that has paralysed the country for months. Nationalist party candidate Porfino Lobo, whose main campaign theme was national “reconciliation”, has emerged as the favourite in the upcoming vote, ahead of the Liberal Party candidate, Elvin Santos.

Interim leader Roberto Micheletti has temporarily stepped down to focus attention on the polls, while Zelaya remains holed up at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Tense climate, tight security

The elections will be held under tight security, with nearly 30,000 military and police forces set to be deployed across the country.

The interim government organised the poll with the support of the United States, a long-time ally and commercial partner of Honduras. The authorities hope the election will allow the country to overcome a political crisis that has left it on the verge of bankruptcy. Almost  70 percent of Hondurans live in poverty. The situation has been made worse by a freeze in financial aid from the US and the European Union worth more than 120 million euros.

Manuel Zelaya has called for a boycott of the vote, after having failed to delay it. “This is the first time in Latin American history that a dictatorship organises elections without the supervision of observers from the Organisation of American States. I regret that the United States supports this vote,” the ousted president said.

International condemnation

The leftist leader can count on the support of several of his Latin American neighbours: Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have all announced they will not recognise the outcome of Sunday’s election.

The international community has condemned the bloodless coup that ousted former president Manuel Zelaya on the day Hondurans were called upon to vote in a non-binding nationwide referendum that would have allowed Zelaya to seek a second term.

On December 2, the Honduran congress will vote to decide whether Zelaya can return to office until his current term expires on January 27.


Date created : 2009-11-28


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